Music News Digest, June 11, 2020

Koerner Hall (pictured) is proceeding with its 2020-21 season, but Osheaga and Showcase PEI have cancelled this year’s editions. Others in the news include Brett Kissel, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Constantines, Indie Week, CIVC, Daniela Nardi, Anvil, Mariposa, Taggart and Torrens, Austin, Music•Musique NB, and farewell Bonnie Pointer, James Hand, Frank Bey, and Peter Leo.

Music News Digest, June 11, 2020

By Kerry Doole

As major festivals and concerts across Canada continue to announce covid-caused cancellations and postponements, it is pleasing to learn that Toronto’s The Royal Conservatory of Music is proceeding with its 2020-21 concert season at Koerner Hall. “We are cautiously and optimistically moving forward with plans for the 2020-21 concert season in a way that is safe and responsible,” says Koerner Hall director Mervon Mehta in a press release.

The stats for this 12th season are impressive: 110 concerts and events will feature artists from 43 countries, and 83 Canadian artists or ensembles will headline concerts. Major names from many different genres booked include Bobby McFerrin, Daniel Lanois, Rosanne Cash, James Ehnes, Stewart Goodyear, Adrianne Pieczonka, Marcus Roberts, the Gryphon Trio, the Galilee Chamber Orchestra, Cameron Carpenter, the Kronos Quartet, Angela Hewitt, Dianne Reeves, the Brubeck Brothers Quartet celebrating Dave Brubeck’s centennial, Ashley MacIsaac, Mariza, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and many more. The season gala, Follies In Concert, is planned for Oct. 17, and an anticipated highlight, the Beethoven 250 Festival runs Nov. 13 to Dec. 13. More details here.


– To nobody’s surprise, popular Montreal summer music fest Osheaga has announced the postponement of the 2020 event. The 15th edition will now take place next summer (July 30 to Aug. 1, 2021), at Parc Jean-Drapeau. Fest producer evenko pledges to bring back some of the acts booked for 2020.. 

–  Music PEI has announced the cancellation of Showcase PEI 2020, planned for Sept., due to continuing concerns surrounding covid-19. Since 2008, Showcase PEI has helped create over $3M in work for PEI artists and the event has built an international reputation. Dates for Showcase PEI 2021 in Charlottetown will be Sept. 27-30. 

– The Stage Two re-opening of businesses in parts of Ontario that begins June 12 includes the opportunity to stage live music drive-in events. For companies that were 2019-20 Ontario Music Fund – Live Music recipients, such events can be considered as part of their modified program plan.  Drive-in events may also be considered in new applications to the Ontario Music Investment Fund.


– The Winnipeg Folk Festival has had to cancel this summer’s physical event, but is going virtual with a July 11 live-stream featuring a highly impressive cast of performers. That list includes Arlo Guthrie, Bahamas, City and Colour, The Sadies and Kurt Vile, The Sheepdogs, Sheryl Crow, Passenger, The Strumbellas, Jason Isbell, Courtney Barnett, and Brandi Carlile. More info here

– Canadian indie rock heroes Constantines has released a new track, Call Me Out, as a means to raise funds for Black Lives Matter Toronto and the Unist'ot'en Camp Legal Fund for Land Defenders. The band states “Call Me Out was written in 2017. It's an acknowledgement of the need for open listening, active learning, inward study and accountability towards personal and social change. It's an owning of our privilege and responsibilities. We're not looking to take up a lot of space with this release, but thought it might do some good to put it out now, rather than hiding it away any longer.” The track will only be available via Bandcamp 


– Toronto's Indie Week 2020 has yet to announce just what form this year's event will take. It is requesting your input by taking this survey ASAP.

– With the pandemic continuing to ravage the live music scene across the country, a group of independent club owners and bookers from across Canada has banded together in an attempt to lobby for additional support from the Federal Government.  They have just announced the formation of the Canadian Independent Venue Coalition (CIVC), with the hashtag #supportcanadianvenues. Learn more about ways you can help the cause here 


– Safeway Canada and Brett Kissel are dedicating two Drive-In concerts to 360 community heroes as part of the ‘Brett Kissel – Live at the Drive-In’ social distanced concert series. Kissel will play a special show for frontline workers in the Edmonton area to thank them for their continued support and dedication throughout this crisis on June 13 and 14 at noon. Attendees will include store employees, emergency responders, frontline healthcare workers and community partners from the Edmonton Food Bank and Food Banks Alberta. Canadians can catch the concert by tuning in to their local Stingray radio stations. For a full list visit here

– Forbes has just released a list of the highest-paid musicians for 2020. Kanye West has been named the highest-paid musician in a year, earning US$170M, followed by Elton John, with $81M. No Canadians make the Top 10, and you may be surprised to learn that Shawn Mendes is the highest-ranked Canuck, at No. 11, with earnings of $54.5M. Drake is at No. 15 ($49M),  and Celine Dion is at 18 ($42M).  

– An upcoming panel discussion hosted by the Empire Club of Canada will tackle the topic of the future of live music in Toronto. Participants include Hugh's Room Live board chair Brian Iler, singer/festival producer Molly Johnson, Andrew Burashko of the Art of Time Ensemble, Aida Aydinyan, GM at Koerner Hall, and Mike Tanner, Music Sector Development Officer, City of Toronto, with broadcaster Garvia Bailey moderating. The free Zoom meeting starts at noon on June 16. Register here

– Canadian hard rock veterans Anvil will perform on the first Canadian heavy metal live-stream put on by District 7 Production and L'Anti Bar & Spectacles on July 4. The stream will be available worldwide via platform and can be viewed using Chromecast on TV. The event will begin on July 4 at 5 pm (EST). Tix on sale now, here. Event details on Facebook. Source: Brave Words


– Vorrei Fossi Qui - Wish You Were Here is an online event to celebrate Italian Heritage Month that streams on June 12 and features five talented Toronto artists: Daniela Nardi, Andrea Ramolo, Elisa Citterio, Romina Di Gasbarro, and Sara Papini. The concert will be on YouTube. More info here 

– Mariposa is partnering with the National Arts Centre tonight (June 11)  at 8:30 pm (eastern) to present live performances by Julian Taylor and Kalyna Rakel. This first ever concert from the Mariposa Virtual Stage will be live-streamed from the Tranzac Club in Toronto via Facebook.

– Hosts of a popular podcast, Taggart And Torrens (Jeremy Taggart and Jonathan Torrens) release a comedy album, BAHDS, today (June 11), via Dine Alone. The duo has a Side Door show, billed as "a fun night of games, guests and Q&A" tonight. Tix here 

– Music•Musique NB will be having its Annual General Assembly on June 27 at 2 pm. RSVP to Agenda and Zoom link to follow shortly.


– Austin, Texas, has long claimed to be the live music capital of the US, but its scene has now been crippled by the coronavirus. Last night (June 11), a star-studded live-streamed concert fundraised to support the city via the Austin Community Foundation. Organised by Paul Simon, Edie Brickell, and Willie and Annie Nelson, it raised over $592K US. A highlight of the segment we caught was a gorgeous duet by Boz Skaggs and Bonnie Raitt. James Taylor, Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Norah Jones and Alejandro Escovedo were amongst the other performers.



Bonnie (Patricia) Pointer, who rose to fame as a member of hit pop/soul vocal group Pointer Sisters, died on June 8, at age 69, of cardiac arrest.

The Pointer Sisters hailed from Oakland, California, and grew up singing in church; their father was a minister. Calling themselves “The Pointers, A Pair,” June and Bonnie started the original group in 1969. By 1973, the group had expanded to include their two oldest sisters, Anita and Ruth. Their new thrift shop look matched their sound, a funky blend of jazz, R&B, scat, and 1940s harmonizing that also fit in with Bette Midler’s retro look and music of that period.

Bonnie, June, Anita and Ruth released their debut album as the Pointer Sisters in 1973 and had their first hit with Yes We Can Can. In a groundbreaking move, the Pointer Sisters became one of the earliest African American groups to cross over to country: Their fiddle-driven 1974 ballad, Fairytale, written by Bonnie and June, was a hit on the country charts and scored the group its first of three Grammys (that one in the country category).

Bonnie left the group in 1977 to pursue a solo career, with some success. She signed to Motown and had a hit out of the gate with the disco smash, Heaven Must Have Sent You. Her 1978 self-titled solo album included a hit cover of the Elgins' Heaven Must Have Sent You. Further success eluded Bonnie, and she later faced drug problems.

The other sisters, still calling themselves the Pointer Sisters, went on to even great success, recording such hits as the Springsteen cover Fire, He’s So Shy, Slow Hand, I’m So Excited, Neutron Dance, Jump (For My Love), and Automatic. Sources: Variety, Rolling Stone

– James Hand, a Texan country singer, died on June 5, at age 67. No cause of death has been reported.

Hand was already well into his 40s when he began to get noticed on the Austin club scene, as a regular at such venues as the Continental Club and the Broken Spoke. Ever dressed in suit, tie, and cowboy hat onstage, Hand’s rich voice and unflagging realness invited constant comparisons to Hank Williams Sr.

Hand’s recording career began in 1999 and, the next year, he released his breakout sophomore LP, Evil Things, on Cold Spring Records. Six years later, he signed to roots music powerhouse Rounder Records, which issued The Truth Will Set You Free and 2009’s Shadow on the Ground. He ultimately released two more albums, Mighty Lonesome Man on the Hillgrass Bluebilly label and, his final work, Stormclouds in Heaven in 2015. Source: Austin Chronicle

– Frank Bey (born Frank Bass), a US blues/soul singer nicknamed Southern Gentleman of the Blues, died on June 7, age 74, of kidney disease.

Born in Georgia, Bey sang R&B and gospel in his youth, prior to moving to Philadelphia.

After some career setbacks, in 1998, Bey released his debut solo album, Steppin’ Out, and subsequently Blues in the Pocket nine years later. He went on to record three albums with Bay Area guitarist Anthony Paule. Their 2014 release Soul for Your Blues garnered Bey two Blues Music Award nominations.

A couple years later he was nominated twice more for Not Goin’ Away. The 2019 BMAs saw Bey nominated for Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year and Soul Blues Album of the Year; this time for the album Back in Business, his first release on the Nola Blue label. His most recent offering was All My Dues Are Paid released via Nola Blue in January. Source: American Blues Scene

– Peter Leo, a veteran CBC producer, died on June 6, his 64th birthday, from an embolism.

Educated at Carleton, Leo worked as a reporter at CHEZ-FM for ten years (1979-89), followed by 30 years at the CBC, as a producer and screenwriter, mostly for CBC Radio.

Tom Harrington, the host of CBC Radio One’s evening news show The World This Hour, posted a Twitter tribute to Leo. Sources: Tom Harrington, LinkedIn

Intertwining Currents by artist Matthew Davies
Courtesy Photo

Intertwining Currents by artist Matthew Davies


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